V to the Tenth: A McGill Tribute
Photograph of Eve Ensler pulled off Google
Eve Ensler’s 1998 groundbreaking benefit play, “The Vagina Monologues”, gave birth to a new rise of female empowerment and has since strived to literally change the story of women, globally. Thanks to her innovative performances throughout the USA, Eve Ensler sparked a bout of inspiration within a number of women, young and old, who decided to voice their experiences to a then lesser-known activist. Hundreds of these stories involved devastating clashes such as: rape, incest, domestic battery, and genital mutilation of women and young girls. That Valentine’s Day milestone performance of “The Vagina Monologues” began what is now known as the V-Day movement, which seeks to bring an end to global violence against women and girls. Following her 1998 performance, a number of sub-actions and organizations have been launched in order to broaden the scope of awareness of V-day, including the College Campaign; of which our very own McGill University is a participant.
McGill first adopted V-Day through Queer McGill who took it on as part of Dyke Days in 2002. Then, in 2003//2004, V-Day became its very own club within the Student’s Society of McGill University. Since which, McGill has been putting on annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” and have been bringing awareness to McGill students, along with people in the greater Montreal area, about gender-based violence. I was lucky enough to go see this year’s production of “The Vagina Monologues”, which was one of the many benefit performances and activities organized as not only part of their annual V-Day festivities, but also to commemorate V-Day’s TENTH year! That’s right people, TEN YEARS of a global female movement, TEN YEARS of change, TEN YEARS of true-life experiences, TEN YEARS of vagina love, TEN YEARS of…ok, you get my point. It’s a big deal, and if you love being a women, then you must love your vagina! While watching “The Vagina Monologues” being performed, I realized how passionate these girls were.
Most of you reading this article are probably thinking that I’m a crazy person or are at least somewhat perturbed just by the mere thought of saying the word: “vagina”. Say it aloud now, “v-a-g-i-n-a”. You’re not saying out loud though are you? And do you know why? Because, you think it’s “weird” don’t you? Well, McGill girls don’t think it’s weird. In fact, they were so overcome with vagina rejoice that “The Vagina Monologue” girls decided to replace the name “Jude” with “cunt”. That’s right, “Hey Jude” was transformed into “Hey cunt” in the very enthusiastic V-Day McGill rendition of the classic Beatles song, “Hey Jude”. Sarcasm aside, Claire Hughes and her co-organizer Evelyn Kuang – the benefit performance’s organizers, did generate a good show. I must admit that, not only for the very entertaining rendition but for the actual true-based monologues, this performance was a real eye-opener…and jaw dropping show for that matter.
I was able to get a hold of V-Day’s benefit performance organizer, Claire Hughes and ask her exactly why this particular campaign means so much to her, “V-Day McGill appeals to me a great deal because there is something for everyone. First and foremost, there is a feminist and activist element alive in everything we do. There is also a theatrical element for the artsy types and strong charitable element for those who love knowing that they're working for a worthy cause. There is also an element of education present in all of our complimenting events in the hopes that we may help break the cycle of gender-based violence. The cause holds great importance to me in the same way that it should to everyone. Gender-based violence touches us all, whether through first-hand experiences, through the experiences of family members, through the experiences of friends and so on”. As for what Claire and her fellow co-volunteers hope will derive from watching such productions, she says they simply hope that, “people will get a chance to see depictions of gender-based violence and see it not only as inevitability, but as something that we have the power to change.”
Personally, I don’t think people will be able to forget such a production of “The Vagina Monologues”, especially with the whole Beatles “cunt” thing going on. They pretty much got their point across and as Claire puts it, “The performances don't shy away from accurately portraying instances of physical, verbal and emotional abuse. They ultimately pave the way towards an optimistic future where we are respectful of all those who identify as women and reverent of the sacrifices that so many have made so that we may one day live in a world without gender-based violence. Likewise, I hope that all of our complimenting events play a role in empowering people, informing people and inciting action, leaving the door wide open for new activists and volunteers to in turn inform and empower others!”
Quite a dream Claire and McGill V-Day participants have there isn’t it? If you would like to be a part of this dream –and I sure hope us “Marianopolians” would be more than eager to be-, you can get involved with V-Day McGill by simply sending an e-mail at email@example.com. Better yet, if you’d like to get a V-Day chapter set up for Marianopolis (*hint *hint all you novel activists), simply visit http://www.vday.org/. Only reading and clicking skills are required.